Johnny Benson – A Rebel Violinist
When Johnny Benson stepped out onto the Meyerhoff Concert Hall stage in Baltimore, Maryland at the age of four years old, gave his family the thumb’s up and tucked his 1/16th size violin under his tiny chin, little thought was given to the possibility that he would someday embrace the world of the Performing Arts as a career. Classically trained for the major part of his life in the renowned Suzuki program, as well as conservatory theory, Johnny performs solo, ensemble, and orchestral music.
Under the tutorship of Anne Lane Vosough, Founder and President of the Baltimore String Orchestra Camp, Ltd., he consistently attained the coveted position of Principal Chair as well as Concert Master in his Junior High and High School orchestras. His training led him to achieve All-County and All-State recognition throughout his secondary education as well as an invitation to perform at Disney World. During this period of musical growth and development, Johnny had the distinct privilege of performing under the baton of such notable conductors as Dr. Christian Tiemeyer, Conductor of the Dallas Symphony, Lois Stout, Conductor of the Salt Lake City Chamber Orchestra, and Roman Palowski, Conductor of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra.
Johnny’s exceptional musical talents were evident from an early age when at twelve years old, he became the youngest member of F.A.M.E., the prestigious and renowned Baltimore based String Chamber Orchestra. Under the coaching of violinists and pedagogues, Sue Taylor and Collette Wickert, he achieved Principal Chair, leading the second violin section in composition and interpretation under the baton of Lucy Rouse. With F.A. M.E. Johnny performed throughout the state of Maryland at such venues as the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, the Meyerhoff, and the Charlestown Chapel and the Merriweather Post Pavilion. He also had the privilege of performing for the Congressional Sub-Committee for the Performing Arts at the State Department in Washington D.C.
International exposure and experience came when Johnny concretized abroad with F.A.M.E. during the summer of 2000. While studying at the Graz Universitat fur Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Austria, he had the opportunity to not only meet but study with such World renowned musicians as Francois Rabbath, contrabassist, Randy Sabien, jazz violinist, Ivan and Michaela Straus, father and daughter violinists, and Eduard Melkus, Baroque violinist. When not studying at the Universitat, he traveled throughout Austria and Germany representing the U.S.A. under the baton of Lucy Rouse, performing in the concert halls of Graz, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich and Oberzeiring. As a member of the International String Orchestra he had the privilege of performing under the baton of Dr. William L. Jones at Kasematten, Schlosberg, Austria.
In 2001 Johnny was the recipient of the Loch Raven High School Award for Outstanding Musicianship and received the Virginia Polytechnic and State University Music Scholarship. While in college he performed with the Gettysburg Symphony under the baton of Ronald Gretz and shared a desk in the first violin section of the Baltimore Philharmonic Orchestra with his mother, Diana Benson under the baton of Dr. Raymond Faracco.
It was not until after college that Johnny began to experiment with the skills he had acquired. Being a bit of a rebel, he did not hold to the idea that the violin could only be considered a classical, country or ethnic instrument and began breaking into the rock, metal, techno, and hip-hop genres. While working at Howl at the Moon in 2007, he began testing his theory while playing with the house band. With that first eruption of applause, he was assured and hooked. Since then, Johnny has actively pushed the limits of the violin’s versatility into the 21st century.
Believing that the violin can indeed stand on its own merits in a totally different genre, he continues to experiment. This experimentation has enabled him to carve new paths for the violin, resulting in an edgier performance. An entertainer at heart, Johnny is comfortable playing a sweet classical serenade or a devastating rift. As long as the people are entertained and happy, he believes he has done his job. At present, he is working on his first solo album. In addition, he is composing soundtracks and performing with several bands whose music varies from Celtic to Metal. His repertoire consists of performances with Random Blonde, The Clockwork Dolls, Stark Madness, Domino Falls, C.O.V.E. and Know Thyself. He is presently performing with The ShamRogues and Trifecta.